Willow Walk goods yard in the early 20th Century
John Wright was employed as an inspector by the London and Brighton Railway Company*. He was on duty at the company’s Willow Walk terminus when he was called over to examine a cargo of wine. One of the cases had been opened and several bottles of port removed. Wright then went to the shunters room where he found one of the missing bottles in a coat pocket.
Asking around he discovered that the coat belonged to William Wakelin, a 37-year old shunter on the railway. Confronted with this Wakelin denied all knowledge of how the bottle had ended up in his coat. Wright was unconvinced and soon found another bottle in the man’s jacket and one in his trousers. The labels had been removed but Wright soon found these torn up near the line on the bank.
The case of port wine was destined for a firm in Tunbridge Wells, no doubt bound for the Christmas festivities. Wakelin confessed and said he had seen the case already open and admitted that the ‘temptation was too great for him’.
Wright gave him a good character and said he had served the company well for six years, but he felt that since these sorts of ‘robberies were so frequent’ it needed to be brought to court and the man punished. The Southwark Police Court magistrate agreed, he sent Wakelin to prison for three months (with hard labour).
[from The Morning Post, Wednesday, December 13, 1882]
*More properly by 1882 known as the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway. In 1922 (after the Railways Act) it became the Southern Railway.